Review of Jane Eyre by Elizabeth Rigby

Description

This review of Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre by Elizabeth Rigby, journalist and critic, is perhaps one of the most cutting and scornful of all the contemporary reviews. In private correspondence and in her last novel, Shirley, Brontë wrote of the distress that it caused her.

In particular, Rigby attacks the morality of the novel, at one point writing that ‘the popularity of Jane Eyre is a proof how deeply the love for illegitimate romance is implanted in our nature’. The insults continue with Rigby summarising, ‘It is a very remarkable book: we have no remembrance of another combining such genuine power with such horrid taste’.

The review was first published in the periodical Quarterly Review in 1848, followed by a reprinting in American magazine Littell’s Living Age, as shown here.

Full title:
‘Vanity Fair—and Jane Eyre’
Published:
17 March 1849, Boston, Massachusetts, US
Format:
Periodical
Creator:
Elizabeth Rigby
Usage terms
Public Domain
Held by
British Library
Shelfmark:
P.P.6256.d.

Related articles

The figure of Bertha Mason

Article by:
Carol Atherton
Theme:
The novel 1832–1880

Carol Atherton explores the character of Bertha Mason in Jane Eyre through ideas of the ‘Other’, Charlotte Brontë’s narrative doubling and 19th-century attitudes towards madness and ethnicity.

Gender roles in the 19th century

Article by:
Kathryn Hughes
Theme:
Gender and sexuality

From marriage and sexuality to education and rights, Professor Kathryn Hughes looks at attitudes towards gender in 19th-century Britain.

Jane Eyre and the 19th-century woman

Article by:
Sally Shuttleworth
Themes:
The novel 1832–1880, Gender and sexuality

Professor Sally Shuttleworth explores how Charlotte Brontë challenges 19th-century conceptions of appropriate female behaviour through the creation of a heroine who works, demands respect and combines self-control with passion and rebellion.

Related collection items

Related works

Jane Eyre

Created by: Charlotte Brontë

Charlotte Brontë’s (1816-1855) iconic novel of 1847 is subtitled ‘An Autobiography’. It is an ...